Time for PM to deliver on air tax
BEFORE the General Election David Cameron promised to protect vulnerable North-East airports if Scotland carried its pledge to cut air taxes.
It is now time for the Prime Minister to deliver.
Speaking to The Northern Echo in March, Mr Cameron vowed that – if re-elected – he would block “unfair tax competition” that would hurt Newcastle and Durham Tees Valley airports.
He said that a list of options would be drawn up within months of an election victory, to examine how to vary rates of air passenger duty (APD).
The Prime Minister said at the time: “No-one should think that, after a decision by the Scottish Parliament, the Westminster Parliament will simply sit there and say ‘that’s fine then’.
“We are not going to accept a situation where there’s unfair tax competition. I’m very keen to make sure that Newcastle Airport has a bright future and I think it does.”
Unless English regional airports have the ability to set their own charges, or the government puts them on a par with Scotland, the consequences for our region could be significant.
Newcastle Airport has warned of devastating consequences if the SNP slashes APD, suggesting thousands of North-East jobs will be at risk, draining £40m from the region’s annual economic output, and sparking an exodus of 500,000 passengers a year who will turn their backs on North-East airports and use Edinburgh and Glasgow instead.
His sudden change of heart last week over the plight of Syrian refugees showed Mr Cameron is prepared to make up policy on the hoof to protect his popularity.
But strong leaders are those who stick to their promises rather than bend to a public outcry to save their own skin.
LAST week’s opening of Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe train manufacturing facility was the culmination of years of hard graft by people in the region.
It came on the day that Nissan confirmed a £100m investment in Sunderland which will protect about 700 jobs at its Sunderland car factory. Mr Cameron and George Osborne made a very rare joint visit to the region to ‘announce’ these major boosts to North-East jobs, which they said were further evidence of the Northern Powerhouse at work. This is complete nonsense. The Nissan investment was made solely by the company itself – none of it came from government coffers, while the Hitachi project was backed by the intercity express programme, a scheme spearheaded by the last Labour government long before the powerhouse phrase became shorthand for anything happening north of the M25 that the Tories which to claim as their own.